LONDON – Williams test driver Susie Wolff is surprised by the “overwhelmingly positive” response she has received since announcing her decision to retire earlier this month.
Wolff has been the leading female driver in Formula 1 over the past few years, becoming the first woman to take part in a grand prix weekend session in 22 years during practice for last year’s British Grand Prix.
Three more F1 practice sessions followed, but Wolff confirmed three weeks ago that she would be hanging up her helmet following this weekend’s Race of Champions in London.
Speaking to MotorSportsTalk ahead of the event, Wolff said that she was feeling very positive ahead of the weekend despite it being her competitive racing event.
“I’m actually just feeling really happy,” she said. “I’m very happy with my decision, it feels like the right time, and it’s a great event to go out on. It’s so much fun out there, so looking forward to the weekend.
“I always said throughout my whole career that as soon as I felt that I couldn’t go any further, I was going to call it a day.
“I realized in the summer of this year that I couldn’t get any further, I couldn’t get onto the grid next year, and for me, my gut feeling tells me that it’s time for something else; a new challenge, a new chapter, because I’ve been racing since I was eight.
“It’s been a fantastic journey but it’s time for something new.”
When asked how she had found the public reaction to her announcement, Wolff said: “Overwhelmingly positive, which was a shock because I’ve always had my critics out there.
“But I think ultimately it was, for me, really, really nice to see how many people I had inspired along the way because I never set out to be a role model or to be someone inspirational.
“Somehow I managed to throughout my career inspire people. So for me that was very, very touching to hear and to read.”
Wolff will take part in the Race of Champions Nations Cup on Friday, racing for Team Scotland alongside ex-F1 driver David Coulthard, before vying for individual honors on Saturday at London’s former Olympic Stadium.